Wed | Mar 29, 2017

Paedophilia is not a Catholic problem

Published:Thursday | April 1, 2010 | 4:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

I have been a Gleaner reader for many years. It's my daily dose of news, oftentimes informative and balanced. It is so important to me that I have a weekly subscription.

The need to express my views publicly has crossed my mind many times but I have never felt compelled to write to you before now.

I am a Roman Catholic woman. Have been for my 47 years. I went to Roman Catholic schools. My first recollection of a priest in my home was at my parents' 25th anniversary in 1970. He was entertaining us as children, imitating the playing of a flute with his fingers. It was a fond memory. Nothing inappropriate.

When I was about 10 years old, a nun asked my mother if I could spend a few nights with her, as she was afraid to stay alone in the convent. I was afraid of staying with her! Nevertheless I went. Had my own room and she was a most gracious hostess and she made me feel completely at home. Nothing inappropriate.

Earlier, I listened to a priest speak of going into formation when he was 13 years of age. All the challenges he faced not having any encounters with the opposite sex, except at Mass, and they were nuns, and having to deal with the changes and urges associated with puberty alone. He was a priest by age 20.

Nearly 70 years later, you could not ask for a better teacher. He looked at the history and theology of our faith and certainly gave me a better understanding of why we do things the way we do. He didn't agree with everything that was done, but he has been able to see an evolution. Changes come with time.

Unacceptable and disgraceful

During my earlier years, I heard of priests and nuns involved in all types of so-called unacceptable disgraceful behaviour. Lately, it is the matter of paedophilia. This is not something to be taken lightly. I have read and heard Archbishop Reece's comments on the matter and have not felt that he for one second condones these violent acts against children, or that he agrees to any grand cover-up, or that priests should be just shifted around.

The priests, deacons and nuns that I have encountered are all dedicated to their vocation but as Archbishop Reece said, paedophilia is not a Roman Catholic problem but a multi-denominational one which needs to be addressed from the source.

The cartoon on March 30, which was totally disgraceful, trivialised and made it look like a laughing matter. Well, I can tell you and all your readers from as early as seven years old, I was a victim of sexual abuse - not from any priest or nun, but from relatives. I told my sister a few years ago and she wanted to know why I didn't tell her; but I was afraid.

So you see Las May, it has happened to me, more in places where I thought I would be safe, and not with any priest or nun. Let's not pretend that it only happens in the Catholic Church or to poor abandoned, neglected children, and support those men and women who have dedicated their lives to the service of others as sisters, priests, brothers, deacons and lay ministers

I am, etc.,

JANICE BENDER

Kingston, Jamaica